From self-taught to professional: ​Interview with Eugene Ryabchenko about bands, shows, and moving abroad

From self-taught to professional: Interview with Eugene Ryabchenko about bands, shows, and moving abroad

In a recent Noizr Zine’s interview, we’ve talked with the new live member of the Austrian act Belphegor, the drummer Eugene Ryabchenko, who has collaborated with a large number of bands from Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Sweden, Austria, and the USA. Being a real workaholic, Eugene successfully combines studies at the university with numerous musical activities — rehearsals, recordings, and tours. In breaks, he also manages his own YouTube channel, where he reveals his tricks of the trade, as well as posts covers and drum cams from his performances. Despite his busy schedule, Eugene kindly agreed to answer our questions, telling in detail about the bands he worked with, gigs in different countries, preferred instruments, and the event in Ukraine with the high-level organization. The interview was translated from original Russian language by Noizr Zine.

Recently, you’ve performed at the 70000 Tons of Metal for the first time. What impressions did you get from this festival?

Eugene: The trip was just amazing. 5 days in paradise. Everything is included in the ticket price. Any entertainment, delicious food. You have to pay mostly for alcohol. For me, this is not a problem, since I do not drink so often. This trip will be remembered for a long time, if not for life. Who has a chance to go on the cruise — just do it. I guarantee you, you will not regret it.

How much time do you usually spend on personal rehearsals and how long does it take for you to warm up on the tour before performing?

Eugene: I usually rehearse with such kind of "fits". It happens that every day I practice 3-5 hours a week. And then I rest for a couple of days, I do not even touch my sticks at all. It's easier for me, to be honest, it's more convenient to plan a day. During the rest time, this achieved info is assimilated. Then, when I return to work I feel like a new person.

Before the concerts I warm up, maybe, for 20 minutes, no more than that. Basically, I do a series of exercises, which I showed in my lesson about hand techniques.

Recently, I’ve started to do push-ups regularly on stage before performing, and I must say that this is the best thing I’ve ever done for warming up. It excellently increases blood flow throughout the body. From the first song, it feels like the middle of the set.

I highly recommend everyone who has not tried it yet. I also was skeptical about this until I began to do it. It feels really good.

But also, if I'm on the road all the time, and there are flights, insomnia, then I always try to sleep at least an hour or two before the concert. In a tour, sleep is a luxury and when you have such opportunity, you need to rest. Especially overseas, where the differences in time zones make it harder. It’s not so simple for you to adapt, and more especially with such strong physical exertion as playing drums in extreme metal.

There is a very brief information about you in your official resources — they say that you are the drummer of Afgrund, Castrum, Locracy bands and that you’ve collaborated with The Symbioz, Gaz-66 Intrusion, and Displease. However, according to Metal Archives and your drum cams, you have more extensive experience. Tell us, how many bands have you worked with so far?

Eugene: Unfortunately, my biography [on my pages] in social networks is already really outdated. I wrote it a couple of years ago and have not updated it since. I just haven't got around to it yet. I really hope to fix this in the near future.

As for the bands I worked with, there were neither more nor less. I will mention only those with whom I performed and/or recorded. I'll start with Ukrainian ones.

  • The Symbioz (2007-2011)
  • Rise of Cadia (2007-2010)
  • Displease (2010-2011)
  • Gaz-66 Intrusion (2011-2012)
  • Waytaker (2013)
  • Castrum (2010 — present)
  • Crucify Me Gently (2016 — present)

All of these bands have audio/video materials, featuring me.

After moving to Hungary, and then to Austria, I’ve started working with foreign groups. In some of them, I became a permanent member, in others, I worked(s) as a session player.

I’ve only taken part in Angerseed’s recording process, recorded parts for their debut album. With other bands, I’ve just performed live.

  • Angerseed (HU) (2015-2017)
  • Posthumous (BY) (2016 – present)
  • Obliterate (SK) (2016)
  • Banisher (PL) (2016 – present)
  • Afgrund (IT/AT) (2015 – present)
  • Vital Remains (USA) (2016 – present)
  • Belphegor (AT) (2018 – present)

As I’ve already mentioned earlier, these are only those bands with whom I either gave concerts, or recorded, but that’s not all of them. So in total more than 20 bands. At the moment, only a few of them are active. In 2018, I will work mainly with Belphegor because of their tight tour schedule. I really hope that there will be time for other projects. Whew! It seems that it's all ☺

You’ve also mentioned that you studied the piano in the local music school, and then started to learn to play the drums by yourself. Why did you decide to change the instrument?

Eugene: I spent 7 years in the music school. After I finished it, I did not play the piano for a couple of years. I wasn’t interested in music at all. Then one day my older brother told me that he and his friends were up to form a rock band and they needed a bass player. Of course, I didn’t know how to play the bass guitar, but being full of enthusiasm, I immediately ran to rehearse. It didn’t last long, my brother went to play the guitar in a local punk band, and without him, I didn’t want to do anything. Later he told me that the guys we used to play with were looking for a drummer. I just decided to try it and I really liked it. I did quite well because of the coordination that I acquired over 7 years of playing the piano. Well, then everything started to up and running. I’ve learned to play the drums mostly by myself. Sometimes, Kornel, the earlier mentioned Castrum’s guitarist and vocalist, instructed me.

In the videos of covers of Eluveitie’s and Apocalyptica’s songs, you perform some music parts on flute. Have you also learned to play on it by yourself? Do you play any other instruments?

Eugene: I wanted to learn to play the flute only thanks to Eluveitie and Korpiklaani. I’m their fan since 2008. I visited their concerts many times, talked with musicians who even signed this very flute on which I play songs on videos.

Also, I play the guitar a little, but it's difficult to call "playing". One day, when I was recording a cover of Behemoth’s "At The Left Hand Ov God", I had to ask my brother for help. The guitar intro to this song took more effort and time than the drum cover itself, ha-ha! And I sang a little when I played with my brother in the band.

You’ve also made a cover of Babymetal’s songs. This band causes absolutely contradictory reactions among musicians. Someone adores them as Rob Zombie, and someone doesn’t like at all as Behemoth’s Nergal or Moonspell’s Fernando Ribeiro. And how do you feel about this project?

Eugene: For the moment, I’ve recorded 2 covers with my friend and talented guitarist Kirill (K.I.R.). These covers are not a mockery of Babymetal. Quite the opposite, I would say that during the learning music parts of these two covers I took just a lot of time, efforts, attention, and love. This accomplished work, probably, can only be compared with work on covers of Meshuggah, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Medley songs from game consoles.

I’m one of those lucky people from Ukraine who managed to visit twice a live performance of Babymetal. This, of course, was possible due to the fact that I live now in Austria. KamiBand (the band’s instrumental performers) is probably one of the coolest and professional musicians I've ever heard/seen live.

Probably, one of the reasons why I love this project so much is that Babymetal is causing such a strong negative reaction among "true" metalheads. I really like it. They know very well that many people do not like what they do. But they are not afraid of this and just go ahead.

When metal has just appeared, people, probably, had no better reaction. Metalheads used to shock "non-metalheads" in former times and now Babymetal shocks them.

I've been listening to a lot of J-Rock and J-pop music lately. It wildly differs from the Western music and that’s obvious. I really hope to visit Japan one day. There is much to learn from them, and so much to see there. It’s another culture.

Jinjer’s musicians once complained that in Ukraine they often had to act as their own event promoters, renting clubs remotely due to the fact that there are not enough professional bookers in some cities. What about you, were there any problems which you have faced personally at your gigs in Ukraine?

Eugene: Personally, I’ve never organized concerts. Somehow it turned out that I basically had only to play drums and carry weights, ha-ha-ha. Therefore, I can not say much about it. Kornel (Castrum’s vocalist and guitarist) has organized many of our (and not only our) shows. I was next to him and sometimes I watched [what was happening]. All I can say, it’s a very hard and thankless job.

I pay my huge respect for all the bands that have built themselves up and organized their own gigs.

Problems always occur and not only in Ukraine. At the moment, some of the best concerts in my life that I’ve played were in Austria, Germany, and The Netherlands (in terms of organization). At the same time, there were just very failed concerts in these 3 countries. It all depends on the scale.

One of the coolest memories, for example, is Castrum's performance at the Metal Heads' Mission in 2012. Everything there was organized at the highest level.

In the same interview, Jinjer said that "there are prospects for developing, but if a band is limited to perform only in Ukraine, it is a direct way to the grave". What do you think, how big a role did moving abroad play in your career?

Eugene: No matter how gloomy it sounds, I have to agree with it. It's hard for me to judge because I have not played in Ukraine for a long time (I don't take Uzhgorod into account). My moving to Europe definitely played a huge role in my so-called career. I’m very grateful for this opportunity. There are a lot of excellent drummers in Ukraine and the CIS countries, about which almost no one heard in the West. In recent years, thanks to the Internet, it has changed a little bit. But going abroad is still an expensive pleasure.

In general, how much do you think the level of organization of shows in Ukraine and the CIS countries differs from Europe and America?

Eugene: I’ve already mentioned the organization of concerts above. All concerts are of different levels regardless of the country. Unless I can add that the fans are different. In those places where foreign bands play shows not very often (for example, in Mexico or South America), local people rejoice and appreciate any band. All together, they go to the concert and cut loose as if tomorrow never comes. I’ve noticed the same in Romania, for example. I think that in Ukraine there can be a similar situation. Oftentimes I have faced this situation when my favorite band just "turned around" at the border or again canceled its show, and that’s very sad.

The public in such countries as Austria, Germany, and The Netherlands is exactly the opposite. Everyone attends concerts there, but even the wildest music will not make them move even for a second. Everyone just watches with a poker face your performance, applauds and goes to drink. But they go and buy the merchandise, and for many bands, this is a blessing, so there's nothing to complain about. This, of course, is not 100% of all cases, but it happens there more often than in other countries.

Last year you gave your first drum clinic in Košice, Slovakia, together with Nile’s drummer George Kollias. Tell us about this experience, what are your impressions of this event, how interesting is it for you, in general, to engage in such activities?

Eugene: That was really cool. I have already visited three drum clinics of George Kollias. All three times it was organized by my good friend Sead from Slovakia. I’ve already known him before from Facebook. Even met each other once. Then one day he invited me to take part [in this drum clinic] with George. That was incredible. I performed songs that I used to play in certain bands. I expected that the audience would not be very communicative, as I spoke in English, but towards the end of the event, everyone came out of shell and then we all chatted for a couple of hours after the performance. The guys asked questions one by one, took photos (even with me, ha-ha-ha), asked for autographs. In general, this drum clinic exceeded my expectations. I really hope that it won’t be the last one. Personally, I like more performing than teaching, but I'm always happy to talk with musicians about drums. Since I sometimes release drum lessons on my channel, I try to answer questions/messages when time permits.

Tell us about your working stuff, what do you prefer to use at the concerts, at the rehearsals, and during recording?

Eugene: I officially use:

Axis Percussion pedals — Axis A21 Sabre double pedal w/ e-kit and microtune spring tensioner. Paiste Cymbals. I have a big set of different cymbals, I change them depending on the situation. Vater Percussion sticks. I use Vater 2B Hickory and Vater SD9 Hickory. Almost always I use my old Rogers Dynasonic Steel Snare (14x5.5), which I got from my father (also a drummer in the past) with Evans HD Dry and Evans Hazy 300.

At home (where I record all my covers), I use my Pearl VBL vision. Basically 2 bass drums (22), 2 toms (10, 12), floor tom(s) (14, 16). Sometimes I use the third tom (13). Pearl and Tama stands. Evans G2 clear tomtom plastic.

Also, I use Axis e-kit triggers. For many years I used Alesis D4, Alesis DM5, Roland TD-6V, Roland TM-2 and Roland SPD-SX as a module. A small mixer Mackie 402 VLZ-4 for a metronome, a trigger, and a playback for headphones. Previously, I used Shure se215 as in-ear monitors, now — Shure se315 for performances and rehearsals. Also, sometimes I use Palmer pan 01 passive DI box.

One of your features is headbanging during even the most intense drumming. Are there any parts in the tracks of your bands because of which you have to focus only on performance without show elements?

Eugene: Of course. I try to do headbanging only when it’s appropriate or when I can. Sometimes it’s very difficult to do this because of complex patterns or drum rolls. It may seem ridiculous, but when I record my covers at home, I try to recreate the conditions identical to the live performance. Therefore, my videos help me to play songs at concerts.

Name 3 best drummers of our time and 3 best drummers of all time.

Eugene: Ugh... This is the most difficult question. I can only name those who made a strong impression on me. 3 drummers of our time are Eloy Casagrande, Tony Royster Jr., and Travis Barker. I named them because I saw all of them performing live. 3 drummers of all time are Buddy Rich, John Bonham, and Pete Sandoval.

Interviewed by Anastezia
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